Friday, July 1, 2011

[Rec] (2007)

The Blood Red Button

Spanish filmmaker Jaume Balagueró is one of the best directors currently working in the horror genre. If you've seen any of his feature films like The Nameless, Darkness, or Fragile, then you know that he's a master of crafting brooding tales, smothered in hopelessness, despair, and child endangerment. Working together with Paco Plaza, the duo crafted [Rec], a first-person P.O.V. horror film that spawned an immediate American remake, as well as serving as a major influence for nearly every "found-footage" film you've seen in the past four years. I first saw [Rec] back in 2007, and aside from The Descent, it's one of the few films in the past ten years that literally had me holding my breath with nervousness and stuck with me long after it was over. I've now seen the movie probably a dozen times, and it still never fails to get the best of me.

Angela Vidal (the insanely gorgeous Manuela Velasco) is a reporter for a late night TV show in the vein of Dave Attell's Insomniac. This particular piece is on the life of fire fighters and what entails an average night for them. Seeing the film play out through Angela's cameraman, Manu, who is recording her at all times, the duo are having an uneventful night with little footage to make an interesting segment for the show. However, Angela gets more than she bargained for when the fire department receives a phone call for assistance at an apartment building. There's no fire, but the residents believe an older woman is in trouble, but her apartment is locked tight. When the firemen break down the door, they're shocked to find the almost rabid-like tenant lunging at them on the attack. Soon, the entire building is being quarantined by the CDC, leaving everyone (including Angela and Manu) trapped inside with the constant threat of an unknown virus that transforms its victims into the 28 Days Later-esque infected, not to mention being stranded without any answers, or any exits.

[Rec] gets right down to business so quickly, it's difficult to explain the plot without giving anything awesome away. The film is a constant barrage of insanity and terror, as our protagonists along with police officers, firemen, a CDC agent and the other tenants attempt to find a way out of the building, all the while avoiding becoming infected savages. While the plot may not sound like anything new to most genre fans, this film was essentially the first P.O.V. horror film of the 2000s to get the formula right. Its blend of realism (from the layout of the apartment complex to the acting that never strays beyond honest and effective) coupled with heart-pounding scares and in-your-face violence makes for a truly original film. The first-person effect is utilized to its full extent as every scare in [Rec] is amplified to eleven, allowing the audience to feel as though they're behind the camera witnessing these terrifying events first hand.

And Christ, what terrifying events. From manic chase scenes that will leave your heart in your throat, to a night-vision finale that had me nearly pissing myself (as well as nearly pissing on the girl next to me), [Rec] is a non-stop electrical shock working its way up and down your spine for 70 minutes straight. The close quarters of the building also provide a dreadful atmosphere as it always seems that our protagonists are running out of places to go, making the apartment complex a blood-soaked labyrinth of claustrophobia and dark, shadowy corners.

If you've yet to see [Rec], do yourself a favor and check it out immediately. Easily one of the best horror films of the decade, this is a film that should please any genre fan, as well as the perfect film to play for those who aren't huge fans of the genre. Watching them squirm and shriek with their mouth agape is one of the most rewarding experiences one can imagine. If you're tired of all of the bullshit out there right now, watch this film and find your love for horror reborn. And then once you've cleaned out your undergarments, pop in [Rec] 2.

5/5 Stars

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